Jonas Olofsson. Photo: Markus Marcetic/The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Sarah Greenwood. Photo: Markus Marcetic/The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
 

Ice sheets that flow into the sea, or which rest on bases below the water’s surface, react quickly to environmental changes. However, it is unclear why they are so sensitive. The surrounding terrain, sea level and temperature affect the ice, but small-scale processes such as tidal movements, melt water drainage and crack formation in the ice also play a role.

"It's with a sense of urgency that the glacial scientific community is trying to understand the stability of marine ice sheets, and the ways in which marine ice sheet sectors may de- (or re-)stabilise in the future. A history of past ice sheet and climate change lies untapped on the sea bed of the Baltic and Bothnian Seas and this is now an exciting opportunity to turn these basins from one of the least to the most well-understood marine glacial catchments in the World," Dr. Sarah Greenwood at Stockholm University says.

The project run by Dr. Sarah Greenwood at Stockholm University aims to better understand the importance of these small-scale processes for the stability of marine ice sheets. She will use Stockholm University’s new research vessel, equipped with modern sonar technology, to produce digital models of the sea floor in the Baltic Sea and the Bothnian Sea. The high level of detail in these images makes it possible to see how the seabed was scoured and shaped by the most recent ice sheet, and reconstruct how the ice flowed and how it decayed at the end of the last ice age. The behaviour of the ice that once covered the Baltic will be compared to equivalent environments in the Antarctic and Arctic. More knowledge about the stability of marine ice sheets is vital for more accurate predictions of how future climate change will affect the Earth.

More about Sarah Greenwood's research.